Kyle Larson takes the victory in wild Auto Club 400
Kyle Larson is a bridesmaid no longer.
After finishing second the last three weeks, Larson finally broke through for his first win in 2017 and his second-career win in 116 Monster Energy Cup starts on Sunday.
"Awesome job," Larson said as he beat Brad Keselowski to finish line in overtime by 0.779-seconds.
Larson won the pole for the Auto Club 400 and led 110 of 200 laps. He was the fourth driver to sweep NASCAR Cup and Xfinity races at ACS. He joins Kyle Busch (2013), Matt Kenseth (2007) and Kasey Kahne (2006). He’s just the second driver to win from the pole. Johnson was the first to accomplish the feat in 2008.
Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five finishers. Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott completed the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway.
Suarez, who started 16th on the final restart and finished seventh, was the top rookie of the race.
Truex Jr. retained the lead off of pit road following Stage 2. AJ Allmendinger received a penalty for his pit crew coming over the wall too soon. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was 12th following Stage 2, slid through his pit box and had to be pushed back to receive service. He restarted 17th.
Truex selected the outside line as he led the field to green on Lap 127. Before the leaders completed the second corner under green, Larson, who was on Truex’s inside pulled out in front of the No. 78 for the lead.
With 50 laps remaining in the race, Larson held a two-second lead over Truex followed by Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, JamieMcMurray, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
Green-flag pit stops started on Lap 151 with Logano. Keselowski pitted one lap later. On Lap 156, Jimmie Johnson, Larson and Truex came to pit road. Johnson spun in his pit and nearly clipped Truex in the process.
Kyle Busch, who had not yet pitted, had the lead followed by Ty Dillon, Larson, Elliott and Truex. Busch pitted on Lap 162, Dillon one lap later and Larson took the lead. Truex challenged for the point on Lap 165 and the Nos. 42 and 78 changed spots. But Larson held on for the lead.
The fourth caution of the race occurred on Lap 179 when Gray Gaulding hit the wall in Turn 2. Larson led the field onto pit road with Truex, Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Erik Jones, McMurray, Kenseth, Keselowski, Blaney, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Larson maintained the point off of pit road followed by Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, McMurray, Truex, Keselowski, Jones and Stenhouse.
The race returned to green with 16 laps remaining. Larson blasted pass Hamlin exiting Turn 2 but coming down the back stretch, Kenseth spun with an assist from Truex. Kenseth pounded the inside wall and triggered Caution 5.
“We came together in a bad spot, I guess,” Truex said.
When the leaders came to the line, it was Larson in first followed by Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Hamlin, McMurray, Jones, Keselowski, Truex, Bayne and Kasey Kahne.
On Lap 193, Larson pit from the lead with most of the leaders while Truex, Hamlin and McMurray remained on the track.
Hamlin pulled out to the lead from the outside lane followed by Truex, but Larson took the high line and moved behind the No. 11. On Lap 196, Larson pulled ahead on the inside and took the lead into Turn 2. The sixth caution came out when Kasey Kahne ran into the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and collected Trevor Bayne in the process.
The top 10 stayed on the track. Larson led when the race into overtime on Lap 200 followed by Hamlin, Keselowski, Truex, Blaney, Bowyer, Logano, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon.
"I thought we had as good a car as (Larson) all day, it just depended on the run and tires," explained Truex. "At times, I thought we were better and others, he was. It seemed like whoever got out front had a little advantage. All in all, a good day. Sometimes you make the right (pit) call, sometimes you don't. Today, we didn't. But to still end up fourth was definitely a good way to end it. Just stumbled a little bit there at the end when it mattered. Just the way it goes."
Larson had a 0.667-lead coming to the white flag followed by Keselowski, Bowyer, Truex and McMurray.
"I was trying to stay as calm as I could be but also frustrated because it thinks like every time I get to the front and get to the lead at the end of one of these things, the caution comes out and I have to cut people off on restarts," said Larson after the race."
"We were able to lead a lot laps today. Truex was better than us in that second stage by quite a bit, but we were able to get the jump on him on the following restart and led pretty much the rest of the distance. I had to fight them off after green-flag (pit) stops and that was a lot of fun.
"It's spectacular that all our hard work has paid off."
There were 17 lead changes among eight drivers. The race was slowed by seven cautions for a total of 29 laps.
|4||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||202||1.513|
|10||24||Chase Elliott||Chevrolet||202||2.578 |
Truex wins second stage of Auto Club 400
Top-three finish for Clint Bowyer means he's "having fun again"
About this article
|Location||Auto Club Speedway|
|Teams||Chip Ganassi Racing|